By Tara Morrell
The Swan and Canning Rivers are desperate for help but have the people of Perth stopped caring about the health of our major waterways?
Experts and observers say the ailing rivers face problems from pollutants like fertilisers and rubbish, warming climate, upstream dams, algal blooms and dangerous bacterial levels.
With the abolition of Swan River Trust, the dedicated government agency responsible for the river, community groups are left to do more to assist.
South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare (SERCUL) and Canning River Residents Environment Protection Association (CRREPA) are groups dedicated to the helping the Swan Canning Catchment.
“There’s lots of work to be done, ” said SERCUL’s Amy Warner who is a City of Canning Landcare Officer.
CRREPA’s President, Grecian Sandwell, said her group is focusing on a long-term goal which includes increasing natural vegetation between paths and the river which will help filter out pollutants before they reach the river.
Ms Sandwell also wants the government to do more to help save the river.
“I think the government could spend a lot more on big engineering work that reduces pollution in the river.”
Ms. Sandwell believes people and businesses guilty of polluting the waterways should face considerable fines as that would start to put a value on the health of the rivers.
However, both groups have yet to see changes in community involvement.
While both say they have no way of knowing whether community attitudes about the rivers are changing, they also say there has been no increase in volunteers.
“I wouldn’t say there has been a great increase in community effort there. We have the same of amount of volunteers,” said Ms. Warner.
Bethany James, a Swan River regular, said at times there is a terrible stench from the river. She thinks it’s time for the community to do something.